by Fox Doucette
Fans got a nice four-pack of boxing action on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights tonight. In the main event, Ruslan Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KOs) smashed severely overmatched Jose Reynoso (16-4-1, 3 KOs) in two rounds. In the co-feature, lightly-regarded Christopher Martin (24-2-3, 7 KOs) pulled a mild upset, knocking out Roberto Castaneda (20-2-1, 15 KOs) with a couple of monster shots to the body placed with surgical precision. In addition, there were a couple of four-rounders; Daniel Martinez (0-0-1) scored a draw in his pro debut against Aaron Acevedo (1-0-1, 1 KO) and Oscar Godoy (7-2, 3 KOs) fought a very strong unanimous decision win over Roberto Crespo (4-2, 0 KOs) in the finale.
The main event was a classic case of a house fighter in against a soft touch. Everything about this fight screamed showcase; the opponent had no power greater than that required to kill a mosquito, and his jaw and heart were about as sturdy as a combination of Victor Ortiz and the Tin Man. Jose Reynoso needs to go back to the club circuit, because this was a complete mismatch. Provodnikov ended things with a hard shot that appeared to break the nose of Reynoso in the second round, and that was that. Reynoso looked like he would have been able to beat the count, but he also looked like he was having the kind of internal monologue in which his common sense said “stay down, you idiot” around the time the referee yelled “nine”. It was a fight the Russian should have won easily, and meeting expectations can make all the difference in perception.
The co-feature was another matter. Chris Martin is a solid but unspectacular pro, the kind of guy whose lack of punching power coupled with his unorthodox, defensive style usually leads to cure-for-insomnia fights on television (as was evident in his snoozer draw with Teon Kennedy on FNF in January.)
Martin looked to be in sporadic command; when he was able to give angles against his opponent, he landed cleanly, but he never looked to be in position to overpower Roberto Castaneda. After four rounds, it looked like either Castaneda was going to catch Martin, or else the Mexican’s greater output of punches was going to make the fight entertaining if not competitive.
All that changed right at the end of the fifth round; Martin caught Castaneda coming in, putting fist to body like Albert Pujols puts bat to fastball. Castaneda folded like a bad poker hand, and by some sort of divine puppet-string intervention beat the count. The bell rang, the scores drew level on your columnist’s card (47-47 through five), and the fight was on…
For about half a round. Martin showed a truism about boxing; once you’ve hurt someone to the body, it becomes that much easier to hurt someone again hitting them in the same spot. A same bat time, same bat channel shot to the body of Roberto Castaneda in the sixth closed the show for good. Castaneda’s heart beat the count, barely rising at nine, but the referee needed only look in Castaneda’s eyes to see that heart was not protecting him from himself. The arms waved, the fight ended, and Chris Martin had his upset win and a bit of redemption for his own marketability.
Thanks to the NASCAR Nationwide series race running short due to auto drivers actually driving fast for a change, we got a scheduled four-rounder to open the show. Daniel Martinez did not look like his heart was truly up to the task of fighting a professional fight. As it turned out, Joe and Teddy had the explanation; Martinez is using boxing as a means to work his way through college. Lack of championship temperament may explain why Martinez had his mouth open by the fourth round and why he fought in brief spurts rather than putting forth a consistent effort. When he did open up and throw punches, he showed flashes of talent; if someone can talk him into devoting himself to the sweet science full time, he has real potential.
On the other hand, Aaron Acevedo did not exactly distinguish himself. Against a casual opponent, Acevedo showed all the subtlety of Adam Sandler’s sense of humor in there. Bull rushing, showing no grasp of technique when fighting on the inside, and throwing punches wider than Oprah Winfrey’s ass, Acevedo made possible his own demise. A sloppy performance worthy of the short bus led to a majority draw. Martinez got a 39-37 score on one judge’s card; the other two judges along with Teddy Atlas had it 38-38. Your columnist had it 39-37 for Acevedo, due more to Martinez’s 2:45 apathy in each round. Neither of these guys are going to be world champions; indeed, if either of them even grabs so much as an NABF-level belt, your columnist will eat his hat.
The second swing bout was far more professional. How Oscar Godoy is only 7-2 is a bit of a mystery if he usually fights like he did tonight on television. He looked poised, showed the benefit of his 93 amateur fights, and otherwise looked very, very solid in there. Either Roberto Crespo is a complete tomato can or else Godoy is starting to figure things out. He controlled pace, threw a higher volume of punches, commanded the distance, and generally fought like a guy who is far better than Godoy is supposed to be.
Crespo, for his part, showed all the skill and ability of a guy who had never fought anyone with more than three pro fights prior to their contests with the Puerto Rican. He looked overmatched though not grossly so; he was merely second best on all the exchanges. It took him until the fourth round to realize he needed to apply pressure, and by then it was not only too late but a fool’s errand since Crespo also showed why he has no knockouts as a professional.
When it was all said and done, Oscar Godoy had his unanimous decision win and fans had a great night’s action to look back on, the best show on ESPN2 so far this year. If this is a sign of things to come for the rest of the summer, we’re in for a treat.
Next week, at 10 PM Eastern/7 PM Pacific, Javier Fortuna (19-0, 14 KOs) is in for a monster test against former world champion Cristobal Cruz (39-13-3, 23 KOs). Speaking of unbeatens, big-punching heavyweight Magomed Abdusalamov (14-0, 14 KOs) gets a guy who is either going to be victim #15 or an upset winner; Maurice Byarm (13-1-1, 9 KOs) hopes for a better performance than he put up against Brandon Jennings in his last fight. The fights air on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com on Friday, July 6th. The Boxing Tribune will have a full preview and recap of the night’s televised action. Stay tuned; we’re the worldwide leader in covering the Worldwide Leader.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. He thinks “more live fight action” is the greatest four-word phrase this side of “free chili cheese fries.” Fan mail, hate mail, and free chili cheese fries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.